Erik Hassle's "Pieces" is one of the finest pop accomplishments of 2009 and will finally be unveiled to the UK and USA in early February. Already a hit in Sweden with his debut single "Hurtful", Erik hopes to grow his fan base with the universal appeal of his gorgeous pop music. Having recently finished a tour with Little Boots and Ellie Goulding, the soul pop quirkster is quickly gaining fans by the legions all the while being hotly tipped from influential tastemakers and UK newspapers like The Guardian.
I caught up with Erik Hassle to talk about his music, the experience of filming his music video to "Don't Bring Flowers" in Los Angeles and about life as a Swedish musician living in London. And of course we had to talk about his hair too – enjoy!
EQ: Hello Erik how are you today?
Erik Hassle: I'm alright! I'm good. We've been on tour now for two week and the last show we all managed to get the flu!
Yeah, but I think I'm going to be ok…
So you just finished a few shows with Little Boots and Ellie Goulding – how did those shows go over?
It's been great – it's been very fun and I just like being on the road. It takes like three days and then you get into the tour mode and you never want to go back!
So let's talk about your song "Hurtful" – I wanted to find out if that song was autobiographical at all?
Yeah it was! The lyrics are quite easy to relate to for everyone I guess. For anyone whose ever been hurt and in love – they can relate to it. It's a knock on your shoulder by your conscious when you're starting to think things over and regret how you maybe handled some stuff. It's definitely autobiographical.
You also recently filmed your video to "Don't Bring Flowers" in LA. What was it like filming – was LA as glamorous as you thought it would be?
(Laughs – hehehehe) The circumstances for that video was crazy because we didn't have a massive budget – we wanted to make it with love. So we hired a guy we loved in Sweden then we sent him down there a week before the shoot was gonna be done. The budget basically then didn't last…so when we came down there, the day before the shoot – we didn't have a crew or a producer or anything and we had to do everything by ourselves and it was extremely chaotic. At the same time, we were jet-lagged from flying all the way from Sweden. But we got to see LA which is something we all wanted to do. But basically it was a very chaotic experience. We only stayed for two days in total before we had to get back on a plane to Sweden, so we were pretty fucked…
Wow, for flying all that way and only having two days to produce a video, it turned out pretty well – are you happy with it?
Yeah I'm happy with it – despite how chaotic the experience was!
So tell me about your debut album "Pieces" that's coming out in the America and the UK – what can we expect?
Well it's twelve pop songs, written in Sweden in the last two and half years. Twelve love songs about anything having to do with being young and falling in love and getting your heart broken. I wrote the album with some friends and the album is the conclusion of something we discussed when we became friends with each other. Basically I grew up listening to a lot of American soul music. The way that I've been singing my whole life has been a bit soulful. When I started writing the album, I got introduced to the big arena of pop music and somewhere there, in the middle – is my album I guess. It's definitely pop, but I'm trying to deliver the soulful and emotion that I was always so fascinated with.
So I understand, you currently living in London – what do you like about living in London being a musician?
Yeah, I just like that wherever you go and live – right now I live in East London – whichever direction I go when I leave my apartment – there's all these interesting places…
Definitely – I live in East London too – I'm off to Shoreditch a little later on…
Oh you are! Oh cool – so you know, the area is just very inspiring to live in – I absolutely love it.
Totally! Do you miss parts of Sweden?
It's so damn cold when you go back now! This time of the year, I don't miss it much because it's so cold. But Sweden is also very nice – it's the opposite to the big city. If you want to, when you go to Sweden you can have the most quiet experiences in your life. Up north in Sweden you can just enjoy how quiet it is – it's a nice contrast to living the life that I do right now. That's what I really miss about Sweden.
I absolutely love your cover of La Roux's "In For The Kill" you did recently – what made you decide to pick up your guitar and do an acoustic cover of it?
There was a competition on my Swedish website where my Swedish fans got to vote for a cover for me to do. La Roux's "In For The Kill" was the winner of the competition – we were happy! When we arranged the song, we started playing "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode and then we sang "In For The Kill" over the top of it. We worked with an upcoming director here in Shoreditch too and asked him if he wanted to film it and he said "yeah yeah sure" and he told us he had the perfect place for it. We went up on a rooftop in London and had very good luck because you could see the sunset!
Note – click here to watch that performance…
Do you feel like right now is maybe the right time for your music with pop quirksters like La Roux, Frankmusik and Little Boots getting so much attention? Do you feel like you fit in that genre of pop?
Yeah! I think it is. I don't really see myself as electronic as they are. I am touching those areas a bit, but my whole view of my album is a little bit more pop and more soul.
If you weren't doing music right now, what do you think you'd be getting up to? Always a fun question…
Ooohhhh… I would be traveling I guess. What a boring answer! All my friends now are traveling all the time on vacation though! It seems quite nice. To go away for a few months, I would really like that. Work at some Swedish restaurant, then earn some money and go see the world…and do music!
My last question for you, is ta-dah, about your hair! How important is your hair to you? It seems to be a trademark for your imagery at the moment. Do you spend hours styling it for that look or are you more a get up and go kinda guy?…
Um, I think the second option! When I was ten years old, I never thought that my hair could be something that was interesting! [laughs] I never liked my hair and people never liked my hair either when I was a kid, but all of the sudden people have started to like my hair and it's always been the same – it hasn't changed!